Dr. Birx visits Idaho Falls, discusses COVID-19 with state and local leaders

State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield, Global Health Ambassador Dr. Deborah Birx, ISU President Kevin Satterlee and Governor Brad Little, at Melaleuca Global Headquarters in Idaho Falls. | Courtesy ISU

IDAHO FALLS — Dr. Deborah Birx met with state and regional leaders in eastern Idaho Thursday to discuss ways to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Birx serves as the White House coronavirus task force coordinator and led a physically distanced roundtable discussion at Melaleuca Global Headquarters in Idaho Falls. She answered questions and was there “to reinforce public health guidelines and address a recent statewide spike in COVID-19 cases,” according to a news release from Idaho State University.

ISU President Kevin Satterlee attended the meeting on behalf of all public higher education institutions in the State.

“Dr. Birx emphasized that our safety guidelines and campus operations are on target,” Satterlee said. “She also reiterated that a mask mandate works and that ties in directly with our campus efforts, and the efforts of all other public higher education institutions in Idaho.”

Marissa Morrison, a spokesman for Gov. Brad Little, says Birx participated in three sessions – one with Little and state public health, one with local public health and a third with business and community leaders.”

Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper was at the final session.

“As the meeting rolled out, it became clear that Ambassador Birx was in a listening mode yesterday,” Casper said. “As various community and business leaders spoke, common themes and concerns emerged. So while I didn’t leave the meeting with the exact tools needed to curb the dramatic spread of the virus in Eastern Idaho, I do have a renewed sense of solidarity. Many of us had never been in the same room together. Yet we have much in common as we all are confronting the same challenges and we have the same exact tools—masking, distancing, washing and sanitizing, and self-care.”

Birx has been to over 40 states and logged more than 20,000 miles since August meeting with state and local officials as COVID-19 is surging nationwide.

“Her personality is to pick up and go where the fight is,” said a colleague of hers for many years told CNN. “She always told us — keep your bags packed. She’d say if you’re assigned to another country, don’t sit in the embassy — go to the distant villages. You need to go where the action is, see what they are doing.”